Brinkhorst: hands off gas revenues

16th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 August 2005AMSTERDAM — The extra revenues from the country's gas operations should not be used to prop up the public's purchasing power in 2006, Deputy Prime Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst has said.

16 August 2005

AMSTERDAM — The extra revenues from the country's gas operations should not be used to prop up the public's purchasing power in 2006, Deputy Prime Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst has said.

Brinkhorst, who is also Minister for Economic Affairs, wants the windfall of up to EUR 1.5 billion to be used instead for structural investment on roads, bridges and education, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Tuesday.

His views are in sharp opposition to his own party, D66, which was the first to suggest the gas revenues should be used to support people on low earnings.

Brinkhorst made his comments before the Cabinet has its first preparatory meeting in the run-up to budget day on Prinsjesdag, the third Tuesday in September. Brinkhorst denied that there is a difference of opinion with his ministerial colleagues.

Last week, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende did not dismiss the idea of using the gas receipts to support the lower paid. He was responding to news that despite economic improvement, the public — and people on low incomes in particular — will see a drop in their spending power next year.

This is because of the knock-on effect of high oil prices and the higher premiums to be paid for the new health insurance system from January 2006.

Christian Democrat (CDA) leader Balkenende spoke to Brinkhorst by phone on Tuesday about his comments but the prime minister brushed aside the suggestion that his ministers are divided on the issue. "We all know the criteria for the FES fund," he said.

Gas revenue receipts go into the FES fund for structural investment.

Brinkhorst told 'De Volkskrant' there were other sources of money available to prop up spending power. "The budget deficit will be lower than estimated, so there will be some room there."

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch News

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